around: the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company.
By Susan Mehalick
Sinopoli Dance Company
Schenectady Museum, Sept. 14
The dancers in Ellen Sinopoliís troupe deserve a lot of credit,
not just for their technical and artistic abilities, but because
time and time again they are game to take on whatever their
leader throws their way, risks be damned. A few years ago,
it was performing suspended from ropes and on stages that
moved under foot in Beating a Path, a site-specific
work presented in abandoned storefronts in Troy and Schenectady.
Now, the troupe has braved the sweltering heat of summer and
the unpredictability of a hillside ad hoc performance space
to bring us Dancing Among the Sculptures, another site-specific
event, this time bringing together the choreographic talents
of Sinopoli and the sculpture of Bob Blood.
Evidently, Blood came up with the idea to collaborate with
Sinopoliís troupe as part of the 40-year retrospective of
his work thatís currently on display on the museumís outdoor
grounds. In all, 17 of Bloodís steel forms have been incoporated
into two choreographies by Sinopli. The performance space
encompasses a circle of grass filled with skinny pine trees
and four of Bloodís works, rimmed by the museumís circular
driveway, the hill across from the museum building and the
museumís side lawn. Audience members were seated in folding
chairs on the pavement.
a dance for six women (Amy Carpinello, Eve DiTaranto,
Kim Engel, Samantha Ball Karmel, Deb Rutledge and Yukiko Sumiya)
set to Philip Glassí String Quartet No. 5, opened the
performance. It was filled with unexpected entrances and playful
movement. A single dancer (Engel) appears from behind a brick
wall to initiate the work by stepping into the circle of grass.
She weaves her way in and out among the pines and sculptures,
leaning against the trees or wrapping her arm around one as
if it were her partner.
Then sheís off, running across the drive and up the hill,
where she encounters an evenly spaced line of five large scultpures.
She spins and lunges her way across the massive outdoor ďstage,Ē
stopping to explore the sculptures in her path. She leans
into one, wraps her body around another and creates a makeshift
chair as she settles back to be cradled in a crescent-shaped
arm of the abstract, angular pieces.
Sheís joined by five others who emerge from the overgrowth
of hedges behind the hill. What ensues is an engergetic romp,
wherein the dancers roll like logs or somersault down the
hill like a bunch of kids having an old-fashioned good time.
Quieter moments feature the dancers arranged in linear tableaux
gently descending the hill. Every now and again, the pulsing
strings of the Glass music are punctuated by fire sirens or
ringing church bells.
After a short break, during which audience members turned
their chairs around to face the side lawn, the six women were
joined by fellow company member Kevin Magee in a dance called
Glyphein, which means ďcarvedĒ and is a direct reference
to Bloodís sculpture. Throughout this work, which is set to
Ney Rosauroís Concerto para marimba orquestra de cordas,
the dancers interact more directly with eight very large-scale
sculptures. Not unlike kids, they climb all over them, or
hoist one from their ranks up to the higher reaches of the
tall piece at the center of the lawn.
There are moments in both of these somewhat experimental dances
that are intriguing and imaginative, but Vanishing
is less obvious precisely because the dancers donít continually
climb on or wrap themselves around the sculptures. Even so,
the visual impact of Vanishing is diffused because
the dance is spread out over such an expansive performance
space; itís a problem of scale, as the dancers are really
dwarfed by their surroundings.
Among the Sculptures will be performed again on Sunday,
Sept. 22, at 5:30 PM at the Schenectady Museum, Nott Terrace
Heights, Schenectady. Bring a lawn chair. For ticket information,
call the museum, 382-7890.